My last post on gearhead lefties got me thinking… Clearly the “need for speed” and in general tinker and tweak  anything that moves or at least has moving parts is a powerful enough instinct to overcome  all the lectures and chastisements that “speed kills”, and any social pressure to drive  slow in hopes of conserving energy, protecting the environment, stopping global warming, and probably saving whales and smaller critters too. Drive the speed limit on any highway and you’ll have even Priuses with Sierra Club stickers on the back window passing you. Heck,, even the lefty role models are modeling this “bad” behavior- Bill Clinton’s got a classic Mustang and far lefty forum founder Kos himself of drives a WRX. The need for speed extends down to all ranks of the left too- Gabby Giffords and a few dem legislators ride BMW airheads, and NoDak lefty political commentator and retired legislator Joel Heitkamp rides a Harley the 80 mile roundtrip to his radio gig in Fargo when weather allows. And this ain’t nothin’ new… Back in the 70s noted lesbian-femiinist write Rita Mae Brown, author of “Rubyfruit Jungle”, bought a BMW and drove it like a BMW should be- fast. She paid little heed to the demands of dim-bulb feminists that she slow down more than a mite. And at the memorial service for South Dakota democratic senator George McGovern, friends reveled tales of George’s 90 MPH and faster drives across the state.

So if even lefties can’t be guilted, chided, lectured, and politically corrected to slow down, the “need for speed” must be a powerful instinct. And indeed it is- Before we had motor vehicles we were racing horses, sailing ships, bicycles, etc.. Given the steam engine, we raced steamboats and trains. And today… Re race everything from riding mowers to tractor trailer rigs! Why? Well, if you’re a medium sized mammal who is outweighted by a factor of as much as ten compared to buffalo, horses, cattle, and assorted hungry carnivores, a bit of speed is essential to survival, especially when complemented by our human agility and intelligence.

So does this mean that we’re doomed to waste energy and lives in blind pursuit of wind in the face and triple digit speeds? Actually, our need for speed drives technology that improves efficiency… Those little bumps on the roof of a Prius right above the driver and passenger’s heads that allow a lower roofline and less wind resistance first appeared on an Italian Abarth sports car in the 1950s. Catalog the tech trickery of the best hybrid, electric, and alternative vehicles of today and you’ll find almost every one was developed for high performance cars in the quest for speed. Consider for a moment that the BMW 5 series turbodiesel can turn the same 13 second quarter miles that the legendary “supercars” did in the 1960s… On 1/3 the fuel with 1/100 the emissions!

Our “need for speed” may also explain why electric cars and even hybrids have only taken a sliver of the marketplace. What if the Volt and Prius had been programmed for performance as well as economy, and introduced as lightweight fat tired two seat roadsters instead of emaciated economy sedans? If the rapidly orphaned Pontiac Fiero had been given GM’s best Euro-market turbodiesel instead that wheezing  four out of a Chevy II, it’d probably still be selling like hotcakes and be the halo car of a vibrant Pontiac Division.  And what if the Ford Escape Hybrid had been developed into a full fledged off road racer, with a couple hundred extra electric horsepower dispatched to all four wheels on command?

So yes, utilizing the potential of our hardwired “need for speed” instead of squelching it is the way to a cleaner, greener, and faster future!